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Poster: AshesRising Date: Nov 24, 2007 2:47am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: "China Doll" --- anyone care to share their thoughts?

Hello: I don't have a clue as to what any of Hunter's songs "mean." I just turn them into something meaningful for myself. Would anyone care to share their thoughts in regards to "China Doll?" I would really appreciate it.

Here's the lyrics as taken from Hunter's web site. Just FYI: I didn't want to mess with the format - note that the quotes get split-up between verses:

CHINA DOLL

A pistol shot at 5 o'clock
The bells of heaven ring
"Tell me what you done it for"
"No I won't tell you a thing

"Yesterday I begged you
before I hit the ground -
all I leave behind me
is only what I found

"If you can abide it
let the hurdy gurdy play -
Stranger ones have come by here
before they flew away

"I will not condemn you
nor yet would I deny"
"I would ask the same of you
but failing will not die

"Take up your china doll
it's only fractured -
and just a little nervous
from the fall"
[@Robert Hunter, 1968-2007, http://www.hunterarchive.com/files/lyrics/teleprompter.html#anchor4143570]
===========================================================

"...but failing will not die...."
Thank You,
--- AshesRising

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Poster: Jerrob Hungar Date: Nov 24, 2007 5:12am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 'China Doll' --- anyone care to share their thoughts?

Good Morrow Ashes

I guess but I just don't know...

This is me having one of my 'deep-space' conversations with my inner self. I first tried to top myself in 1966 with a bottle of codeine and then in 1975 with a heroin overdose. Now I can abide it and that old hurdy gurdy is still playing. :¬)



THE GOOD-MORROW.
by John Donne

I WONDER by my troth, what thou and I
Did, till we loved ? were we not wean'd till then ?
But suck'd on country pleasures, childishly ?
Or snorted we in the Seven Sleepers' den ?
'Twas so ; but this, all pleasures fancies be ;
If ever any beauty I did see,
Which I desired, and got, 'twas but a dream of thee.

And now good-morrow to our waking souls,
Which watch not one another out of fear ;
For love all love of other sights controls,
And makes one little room an everywhere.
Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone ;
Let maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown ;
Let us possess one world ; each hath one, and is one.

My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,
And true plain hearts do in the faces rest ;
Where can we find two better hemispheres
Without sharp north, without declining west ?
Whatever dies, was not mix'd equally ;
If our two loves be one, or thou and I
Love so alike that none can slacken, none can die.

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Poster: direwolf0701 Date: Nov 24, 2007 9:05am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 'China Doll' --- anyone care to share their thoughts?

glad you failed brother


very nice Donne reference. with phd in english, i dont remember that one. thanks for the poem.

i turn to this song alot too in my times of need. being relatively unstable as many here know, China Doll can actually bring me back up. Then again, i just look at my beautiful daughters and realize "why i am."

thanks for failing brother Jerrod

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Poster: jglynn1.2 Date: Nov 24, 2007 12:21pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 'China Doll' --- anyone care to share their thoughts?

This song always makes me think of my kids now. The fragility of life and the ups and downs and they are so young and innocent. It is a very emotional song for me. I love the sense of hope in the last verse: "take up your China Doll, it's only fractured . . .just a little nervous from the fall"

Where would we be without Robert Hunter?

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Poster: Jerrob Hungar Date: Nov 24, 2007 10:45am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 'China Doll' --- anyone care to share their thoughts?

Thank you so much for your words, Dire. That really means a lot to me.
I love old John Donne. If I remember right he was the guy who said 'No man is an island' and I feel like I'll never be an island again having found this place. Might be a peninsula now and again though. :¬)

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Poster: AshesRising Date: Nov 25, 2007 2:21am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 'China Doll' --- anyone care to share their thoughts?

Jerrob Hungar: I sincerely appreciate your taking the time to write such a personal response to my posts. Any other comment by me at this time would be foolish.

From the center of my heart .. "Thank You,"
--- AshesRising

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Poster: Jerrob Hungar Date: Nov 25, 2007 4:38am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 'China Doll' --- anyone care to share their thoughts?

Thank you Ashes for inspiring a very interesting thread. I must admit it was with some trepidation that I made that candid confession. I suppose it was a leap of faith in a way, baring myself to the forum to show others who may be in pain that the heart of this place (palace, broke-down) is big and warm and generous. And my faith was rewarded handsomely by one of the most warm-big-hearted old wolves it's been my pleasure to meet. (Not so much of the old eh? Dire and I'm chuffed that you liked the poem. You've got a bunch of true friends here, Dire...and I'd be tickled pink to be considered one also.)

I included the John Donne poem not only because I think it's a beautiful poem but also because if I interpret it in the same way as I interpret China Doll it seems to give it another dimension or am I being delusional? Donne also attempted suicide several times before he found his 'place'.
The quotation is "No man is an island, entire of itself...any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."

which reminds me of Chimes of Freedom

Far between sundown's finish an' midnight's broken toll
We ducked inside the doorway, thunder crashing
As majestic bells of bolts struck shadows in the sounds
Seeming to be the chimes of freedom flashing
Flashing for the warriors whose strength is not to fight
Flashing for the refugees on the unarmed road of flight
An' for each an' ev'ry underdog soldier in the night
An' we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.

In the city's melted furnace, unexpectedly we watched
With faces hidden while the walls were tightening
As the echo of the wedding bells before the blowin' rain
Dissolved into the bells of the lightning
Tolling for the rebel, tolling for the rake
Tolling for the luckless, the abandoned an' forsaked
Tolling for the outcast, burnin' constantly at stake
An' we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.

Through the mad mystic hammering of the wild ripping hail
The sky cracked its poems in naked wonder
That the clinging of the church bells blew far into the breeze
Leaving only bells of lightning and its thunder
Striking for the gentle, striking for the kind
Striking for the guardians and protectors of the mind
An' the unpawned painter behind beyond his rightful time
An' we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.

Through the wild cathedral evening the rain unraveled tales
For the disrobed faceless forms of no position
Tolling for the tongues with no place to bring their thoughts
All down in taken-for-granted situations
Tolling for the deaf an' blind, tolling for the mute
Tolling for the mistreated, mateless mother, the mistitled prostitute
For the misdemeanor outlaw, chased an' cheated by pursuit
An' we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.

Even though a cloud's white curtain in a far-off corner flashed
An' the hypnotic splattered mist was slowly lifting
Electric light still struck like arrows, fired but for the ones
Condemned to drift or else be kept from drifting
Tolling for the searching ones, on their speechless, seeking trail
For the lonesome-hearted lovers with too personal a tale
An' for each unharmful, gentle soul misplaced inside a jail
An' we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.

Starry-eyed an' laughing as I recall when we were caught
Trapped by no track of hours for they hanged suspended
As we listened one last time an' we watched with one last look
Spellbound an' swallowed 'til the tolling ended
Tolling for the aching ones whose wounds cannot be nursed
For the countless confused, accused, misused, strung-out ones an' worse
An' for every hung-up person in the whole wide universe
An' we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.

Copyright © 1964; renewed 1992 Special Rider Music

"there's no success like failure and failure's no success at all"

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Poster: BryanE Date: Nov 24, 2007 7:00am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 'China Doll' --- anyone care to share their thoughts?

When someone is taken away in a flash of senseless violence, the survivors are left to cherish their spirit, which will always remain as a fragile keepsake.

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Poster: patourkid Date: Nov 24, 2007 7:13am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 'China Doll' --- anyone care to share their thoughts?

This song was originally titled "The Suicide Song" at least thats what " The Complete Annotated" book says. No reference where this name came from so I would be intrested to see who was quoted as calling it that. I also remember reading somewhere else that this song was about suicide, the other piece I remember reading went more into details. But i don't recall where it was that I read the other story.

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Poster: patkelley Date: Nov 24, 2007 7:52am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 'China Doll' --- anyone care to share their thoughts?

I've heard or read that it's sort of about a person who thinks about suicide then decides against it. In terms of the music, it makes sense if you consider that most of the song is kind of dark and in minor chords and then for the last verse ("Take up your China Doll...) switches to a brighter, happier sound. I love this song.

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Poster: NebraskaJack Date: Nov 24, 2007 8:01am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 'China Doll' --- anyone care to share their thoughts?

Interesting, I was just thinking about this last week. I think the China Doll is anything fragile i.e. life, relationship, society, sanity. Even when it's been dropped once and cracked a bit, it's still worth having and cherishing.

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Poster: barongsong Date: Nov 24, 2007 8:33am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 'China Doll' --- anyone care to share their thoughts?

My jist on it was that it always seemed to be played when things were very high or maybe it just seemed that way in my own case. Anyway to explain further for me several times it was the song that brought me back from maybe a too high and harsh place to something that was a bit more comfortable. I guess as a boil down my interpretation of it was basically, its ok don't worry life goes on type of thing.

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Poster: mcgannahan Date: Nov 24, 2007 10:55am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 'China Doll' --- anyone care to share their thoughts?

i love when it follows a 73/74 darkstar. breath-taking.

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Poster: spacedface Date: Nov 24, 2007 9:35pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 'China Doll' --- anyone care to share their thoughts?

Death is inevitable all of us born, so China Doll applies to all of us. Our judgment is "all I leave behind me...is only what I found."

Many of the songs seem like a conversation with God. Who is the Me? The I?

The feeling will not die. What I want to know is how does the song go. They had to count them all -- 7 LAa: la, la, la, la, la, la, la.

Many facets, some apply to the show, your life, your death, your friends, etc. Meaning also seems contextual in terms of the songs around it, like death being a passage to another life or state.

My fav China Doll is:
http://www.archive.org/details/gd85-06-14.sbd.carman.13747.sbeok.shnf

I wonder if the flavor following Playin' (if you can abide it, let the ...) then thru Space to Truckin' is different than other contexts.

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Poster: AshesRising Date: Nov 25, 2007 2:27am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 'China Doll' --- anyone care to share their thoughts?

spacedface: Thank you for both the insight and the recommendation. The layers within the context of the tapestry were certainly a wonderful aspect of the whole phenomenon. For me, it has allowed the music to become timeless and has helped me "inch your way through dead dreams to another land."

Great recommendation: Morning Dew, China Doll & Comes A Time in the same set..... sounds like "something" was happening that was extra-ordinary. Gotta go listen to it now... Thanks a lot.
--- AshesRising

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Poster: barongsong Date: Nov 25, 2007 7:27am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 'China Doll' --- anyone care to share their thoughts?

nice, a beautiful interpretation of this beautiful song. Thanks

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Poster: spacedface Date: Nov 25, 2007 3:00pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 'China Doll' --- anyone care to share their thoughts?

Is there a favorite China Doll list?

I don't mean exhaustive, just single favorites. Maybe with a why summary note.

As far as 6-14-85, it's a mellow show not epic, in a way like I get quickened by The Other One of 8-21-68 or DP5, or others. But I had the tape then and really liked in China Doll the way how Healy or Jerry changed echo to be more present right at "before I hit the ground," the subtle notes added by various players, and the unusual post jam with Brent and percussion. Definitely a more giving mood than Hell in a Bucket.

Also, things I forget sometimes with soundboards are the way the crowd effected you, like the response to the last "pick up your China Doll" line. Stella Blue also had that: I knew someone that vocalized at a certain time so I was sensitive to call responses from the crowd at various times.